Strawberries are one of the world’s most popular fruits and are often associated with love. First cultivated in Brittany, France in the 1740’s, this unique berry delivers a myriad of health benefits.
Scientists in recent years have discovered that strawberry health benefits can help fight diabetes, heart disease and even leukemia.
Strawberries Protect Against Diabetes and Heart Disease
Strawberries are packed with antioxidant compounds called phenols; the particular phenol found in strawberries that give the berry its ruby red color is known as anthocyanin.
Anthocyanins provide much of the antioxidant power behind strawberries.
“We’ve discovered the science behind how strawberry health benefits work to increase our in-built defenses to keep cells, organs and blood vessels healthy and which can reduce the risk of developing…heart disease and diabetes,” said Professor Thornalley, part of the University of Warwick team that studied the antioxidant properties contained in strawberries.
Strawberries Ideal for Diabetic Diet
Even though strawberries are a fruit – and if you are diabetic you may tend to avoid fruit – strawberries are the perfect complement to a low glycemic diet.
Both strawberries and their cousins (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) all have scores below 40, and a low score helps keep your blood sugar levels steady. In addition, strawberry health benefits are a low carbohydrate food and if you are diabetic you can eat up to 1 ¼ cup serving daily.
Strawberries contain a fruit sugar known as fructose, which doesn’t need insulin to be metabolized by your body.
Heart Health Helpers
Flavonoids – also found in strawberries – are extremely powerful antioxidants that help decrease your risk of heart disease.
In the Warwick University study, researchers discovered that the protein Nrf2 decreases LDL “bad” cholesterol and blood lipids while stimulating the antioxidant activity in our bodies. Strawberry health benefits can help kick this protein into high gear.
Researcher Maurizio Battino and his team from Italy’s Marche Polytechnic University gave participants one pound of their lab-cultivated Sveva strawberries daily. Blood readings measuring the antioxidant levels in plasma were staggered throughout the day.
Results indicated that strawberries strengthened red blood cells against oxidative stress and increased the amount of antioxidants traveling in the bloodstream. Scientists believe that oxidative stress is the precursor to many diseases, and antioxidants are proven to protect against oxidation.
Multiple universities are currently trying to identify the most effective varieties of strawberries, as well as the advantageous amounts to consume.
Battino has used Sveva, Adria and Alba varieties in his work and confirms, “Strawberries should form a part of people’s healthy and balanced diet, as one of their five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.” These varieties are currently being cultivated in Europe.
Strawberries Soothe the Stomach
The University of Barcelona (UB) proved that strawberry health benefits can help protect the lining of the stomach from alcohol damage, as well as provide relief for those who suffer from stomach ulcers or other gastric trouble related to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Regular consumption of alcohol, long-term aspirin use and viral infections can cause stomach irritation.
“Strawberries are not only linked to their antioxidant capacity and high content of phenolic compounds but also to the fact that they activate the antioxidant defenses and enzymes of the body,” said Sara Tulipani, researcher and co-author at UB.
Natural Cancer Prevention
Strawberries contain high levels of vitamin C, ellagic acid, kaempferol and quercetin, powerful natural phytochemicals that have been proven to kill leukemia cells in laboratory tests.
Research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service found that strong>several varieties of wild strawberries contained more cancer-fighting properties than other varieties of strawberries did. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Scientists will use their findings to help strawberry growers cultivate the most beneficial varieties for human health.
In the meantime, enjoy a bowl of delicious strawberries packed with health-boosting, disease-fighting antioxidants!